Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Basketball

Duke Tops Irish in ACC Championship Game 75-69

March 11, 2017

No team had won four games in four days to win the ACC Tournament, but Duke did just that in a 75-69 win against Notre Dame in Saturday night’s championship game.

Heading out of the final media timeout, Notre Dame was in a 2-for-12 funk from the field and hadn’t hit a shot from the field in 2:34, but only trailed by one. Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson knocked home a three-pointer to tie the game at 65 with just over two minutes to play.

That’s when Duke freshman Jayson Tatum took over. Tatum scored six points in the final two minutes, including a three-point play on a breakaway dunk to put the Blue Devils up 73-69 with just 25 seconds to play.

Tatum finished the night with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Colson finished the game with a monster game of 29 points and nine boards.

The Irish shot just 40 percent for the game, and saw Duke shoot 61 percent. The smaller Irish did battle as they won the rebounding battle 33-30 and scored 20 points off turnovers.

However, Duke dominated in the paint with 44 points and five blocks on the night, while holds Notre Dame to just 6-of-25 from the three.

Notre Dame used a quick 4-0 run to start the second half to tie the game at 38 after a somewhat slow scoring first half. Rex Pflueger gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game with a three-pointer, and then Colson added to it with a steal and layup to push the lead to 45-42.

As if Notre Dame didn’t have enough momentum from a 6-0 run, Colson threw an errant pass, then striped Grayson Allen and rumbled down the floor only to miss the layup. However, VJ Beachem was right there for a huge tip dunk to stretch the Irish lead to 53-46.

Beachem finished the game with 15 points and three rebounds.

With eight minutes to play, Notre Dame held a 58-55 lead but saw Colson go down with an injury, and he would need to get attention in the locker room.  Colson returned a few minutes later, but Duke used an 11-2 run to take the lead at 63-60 with 4:55 to play.

Duke got off to a hot start taking a six-point lead in the first four minutes of the game. Jefferson scored a quick four points, but Notre Dame would answer. Colson and Beachem knocked in back-to-back shots from deep to bring the Irish within 10-8 at the first media timeout.

Luke Kennard made his presence felt early with six points in the first eight minutes, which included a rare four-point play. The Irish answered with another Colson bucket, and Vasturia picked Jackson for an easy steal and layup to keep the Duke lead to four.

Kennard ended the night with 16 points for the Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils took an eight-point lead midway through the first half. Tatum missed a free throw, but Jefferson got the offensive rebound and found a wide-open Kennard for a three to put Duke up 31-22 with 4:39 left in the first half.

Notre Dame saw Duke take a 36-2 lead with just over two minutes until the break, but Colson answered the call. The junior forward six points in the final 1:13 to pull the score to 36-34.

Allen hit a running layup at the buzzer to give Duke a 38-34 lead at halftime.

Rebound had been Notre Dame’s kryptonite, but the Irish held their own against Duke’s front line in the first half as both teams had 16. The difference was the Duke got 12 points from its bench, and Notre Dame got just two in the first 20 minutes.

Kennard led the Blue Devils with nine first-half points, while Colson put up 15 points with five rebounds.
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Duke Tops Irish in ACC Championship Game 75-69

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